What I did all day at my publishing internship
- No. 1
Editorial Board Meetings
I. B. Tauris, the academic publishing house where I interned this winter, invited me to the biweekly meetings where editors and executives gathered to pitch new books. From my hours of observation, I gleaned significant insight into how the company was run. I also learned about what they valued in a proposal. As an aspiring writer, I found it invaluable to see what editors and executives sought in prospective projects.
And then, of course, there were the proposals themselves, packet after packet pitching books with titles like Contraception in Postwar British Society, Family Life in Soviet Lithuania, Hidden Cameras of the Holocaust, and Manhattan: A Literary Guide for Travelers. From Soviet soccer and Argentinian politics, to eighteenth-century London landlords and ancient Timbuktu, the topics were far more interesting (at least to me) than sales charts and pie graphs!
- No. 2
One post, about WWI soldiers and suffragettes, I wrote for the 100th anniversary of British women winning the vote. Another post, about a politician who lowered food prices, I photographed in a local grocery’s bread aisle. Quick and creative, Instagram became my favorite marketing task.
- No. 3
Metadata (aka podcasts)
I name this task in my top five not because copying and pasting ISBNs was particularly fascinating (although I did enjoy sneak peeks at book summaries) but because it provided the perfect complement to podcasts. From NPR’s Code Switch and Hidden Brain to BBC 4’s In Our Time and Nordic Food Lab’s, well, Nordic Food Lab, I learned about brain science, sociology, current events, food history…and an industry that I might someday like to join! While I’m glad metadata was just one of my many assignments, it was, as my co-worker put it, a “meditative” way to spend Friday afternoons.
- No. 4
No, I’m not talking about Facebook cover photos. I’m talking about book jackets! That’s right, three soon-to-be-published IB Tauris titles will stand on international bookshelves emblazoned with a photo I chose. It’s a perfect example of how I got to do work that mattered. Instead of filing papers or fetching coffee, I worked on tasks that editors did. And now some of my work will be published!
- No. 5
While imagery is important, we all know the adage about books and their covers. Words count more. And I worked on them! I edited and revised chapters of two different manuscripts, one on China’s criminal underbelly (highly entertaining) and one on Turkish ecocriticism (slightly less jaw-dropping but also cool). I offered wholistic feedback and line-by-line edits, at times reshaping entire paragraphs to improve syntax and flow.
Overall, I was thrilled. My tasks felt worthwhile, my co-workers were friendly, and every day I learned about publishing, career possibilities, and what made good writing.
Oh yes: and my office mate occasionally brought in her dog.